Tag Archives: Study Abroad

Texas A&M Nominates Three for 2017 Udall Scholarship Competition

Nominating outstanding students for nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships is one way to showcase the world-class undergraduate experience at Texas A&M. Not only do the winners in these competitions receive valuable support for their educational expenses, but they also join professional networks that will continue to open doors throughout their careers. But a student does not have to win a competition to realize the value of the national fellowships application process. The applications for these awards ask students to reflect on their ambitions and how they are building knowledge, skills, and experience related to following their dreams. Students report that the application is a truly clarifying experience.

One of the awards that LAUNCH: National Fellowships serves as a nominating official for is the Udall Scholarship. This award, from the Morris K. & Stuart L. Udall Foundation, recognizes top students planning careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Students who are selected will receive scholarships of up to $7000 and join a community of scholars whose dedication to sustainable public policy honors the legacy of the Arizona congressmen.

We are proud to announce the nomination of three TAMU students for the 2017 Udall Scholarship competition: Charlie Arnold, Grace Cunningham, and Jasmine Wang.

2017 Udall Nominee Charlie Arnold ’19

Charlie Arnold ’19 is a mechanical engineering undergraduate in the university and engineering honors programs. He spends his spare time designing solar lighting shelters with Give Water Give Life to be used in rural communities in Burkina Faso Africa, and is the vice president of the cycling team. Arnold became interested in the environment through his cycling. His cycling throughout the country opened Arnold’s eyes to the environment and impacts of climate change occurring in the world today. His interest in engineering and energy spurred Arnold to become interested in renewable energy. After completion of his undergraduate mechanical engineering degree, Arnold plans on working for renewable energy companies before following his goal of starting his own net zero energy home company.

2017 Udall Nominee Grace Cunningham ’18

Grace Cunningham ’18 is a junior bioenvironmental science major pursuing minors in Spanish and business. Cunningham hopes to unite professionals from varied disciplines—including science, business, planning, and design—across government, academia, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses from around the world to work together to solve environmental problems in a more holistic way. A member of the University Honors Program, she served as a Sophomore Advisor and was inducted as a University Scholar in 2015. Cunningham has worked as an intern with the City of Dallas Trinity Watershed Management, conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Brian Shaw’s fungal biology lab. She has participated in a variety of study-abroad opportunities that include conducting tropical and field biology research on endemic species in the Commonwealth of Dominica, instructing a seminar in Italy as an MSC Champe Fitzhugh Honors International Leadership Seminar student leader, and participating in a student leadership exchange to Qatar in the Persian Gulf Coast; in 2017, she will be studying Spanish language and culture in Barcelona as well as conducting research on sustaining human societies and the natural environment in Antarctica. Cunningham is also a member of the sorority Alpha Chi Omega. After graduating from A&M, Cunningham hopes to pursue a masters degree in environmental management.

2017 Udall Nominee Jasmine Wang ’19

Jasmine Wang ‘19 is a sophomore political science major and sociology minor from Houston, TX. Wang is involved in and currently serves as a Student Senator and Chair of Diversity & Inclusion and the Chair of Sustainability through the Texas A&M Student Senate, Aggie Belles, a women’s leadership development and service organization, as well as multiple university-wide committees spanning a wide array of subject matter. Wang also serves as an intern through Texas A&M’s Office of Sustainability, a university institution devoted to fostering a culture of preservation and respect for environmental, social, and economic resources on campus. Just recently, she was a recipient of the prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award. Following her completion of an accelerated undergraduate program, Wang plans to attend law school in pursuit of a Juris Doctor with a focus on environmental and energy law and advocacy.

Since 1996, Texas A&M has had seven Udall Scholars and two Honorable Mentions. The most recent Udall Scholar was Victoria Easton ‘15, who was the first TAMU Udall Scholar selected in the Tribal Public Policy category.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://tx.ag/NatlFellows.

Learning Outside the Classroom – Briana Bryson Study Abroad

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. In the excerpt below, senior animal science major Briana Bryson ’17 describes her learning experiences—both in and out of the classroom—on her study abroad program to Japan.

By Briana Bryson –

During the fall of my junior year, I decided that my undergraduate experience wouldn’t be complete without a study abroad. I chose Japan as my destination, with food, language development, and the desire to experience a non-Western culture being my biggest motivators. I applied to a transfer credit program through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) and was accepted into the Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies (NUFS). With an enrollment of less than 700 students, the university is less than a quarter of the size of my old high school. Most of the students who go there are native Japanese students who are pursuing degrees in foreign languages, or international students, so I thought it would be the perfect environment for me to improve my skills in Japanese.

I consider my study abroad one of my best undergraduate experiences so far! There are few better ways to test your abilities to problem-solve than to travel to a country with a native tongue you can barely understand. Before my semester at NUFS began, I traveled around Japan on my own for a week, visiting various sites in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka, and making use of their extensive railroad system.

Briana Bryson '17 in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto
Briana Bryson ’17 in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

Considering how my poor my Japanese was at the time, looking back, I am amazed by how I managed to survive on my own for a week without even a reliable Internet connection to rely on!

Nagasaki is a beautiful coastal city described as one of the best natural harbors in the world. The modern city is a far cry from the scenes of destruction a Google image search is likely to come up with. The picture on a right is a photograph I took from a viewing deck near the city’s penguin aquarium, near the end of summer. 72% of the Japan is covered in mountains, and Nagasaki gives a good idea of how the country’s 120 + million people manage to make efficient use of the land.

Perhaps number one on the list of Nagasaki’s must-see sites is the 平和公園, or Peace Park. Built in order to remember the lives lost when the city was hit with an atomic bomb at the end of World War II, it lies in the center of the city just a short walk away from the bomb’s epicenter. It is a beautiful place to visit, possessing walkways adorned with flowers and artistic statues gifted to the city of Nagasaki from countries all over the world bearing messages of peace. The statue in the picture to the right faces the bomb’s epicenter. I learned from my Peace Studies professor that the arm extended outwards is meant to gesture towards the prosperity peace brings – the wealthy, modern city of Nagasaki – while the arm pointing upwards serves as a warning of the potential danger of future weapons of mass destruction

Believe it or not, studying actually took up a decent chunk of my study abroad. The Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, or “Gai-dai”, as shortened from its Japanese name, was about an hour-long commute from my host family’s house via bus, and 20 minutes away if driving directly by car. It’s situated in a town called Togitsu, which lies north of Nagasaki. I took 16 hours’ worth of classes – Japanese 3, Peace Studies, Modern Japanese History (MJH), Introduction to Japanese Society (IJS), Kanji and Vocabulary 2&3, Tea Ceremony, Calligraphy, and Shogi. I am proud to say I only got one A! Such a statement may sound odd coming from an honors student, but the Japanese grading system is different from ours, with an S, corresponding to an A+, being the highest achievable grade. I was surprised when all of my classes, barring Peace Studies, MJH, and IJS, were taught in Japanese, but I quickly adapted and am grateful for the listening practice.

To read more about Bryson’s experience in Japan, check out the Study Abroad page of her Honors ePortfolio: https://sites.google.com/site/brianashonorseportfolio/study-abroad.

Jay Garza – Pre-Flight

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. In the excerpt below, junior biomedical engineering major Jay Garza ’18 shares some of the anxiety he had approaching his study abroad experience, as well as his rationale for pursuing experience abroad.

– By Jay Garza

It is only hours before my flight which will take me thousands of miles away. I’m fumbling around with my passport and ticket at DFW Airport Security. Holding up the line, I try to speed up. When a TSA worker asked me, “Staying or Going?” My mind went blank when i attempted to think of a response. Unable to answer the worker, I look up at the man with a dumbfounded stare as I walk through the X-ray machine and collect my things.

Situated at my gate, I began to realize that I have not put much—if any—thought at all into this trip. I did not learn any German. I did not pack any school supplies. I started to panic. Did I leave anything important? Are my friends going back home to forget about me? What will I do if my host family hates me? What am I going to do if my host family only eats beets?! I HATE beets! Who the hell signed me up for this trip?! Oh crap! That was me. What was I thinking?

Calmed down by a few deep breaths and some rational thoughts, I knew these worries were just a bit of pre-trip anxiety. Still though, I felt unprepared to embark on this journey, especially since this trip would be my first time traveling alone. Then I began to think of why I wanted to come in the first place.

I knew growing up where I did and going to school at Texas A&M, I was part of a bubble, unaffected by the changing world around it. Going to Germany would be an opportunity to burst that bubble and really explore an entirely different world outside my own small one. All I have to do is talk to the people. Coming to Germany would give me a chance to travel alone for the first time in my life. Knowing that I could single-handedly navigate myself through international borders not only gave me an incredible feeling of independence, but also gave me an enormous amount of confidence.

To read more from Jay’s study abroad blog entries, visit https://plus.google.com/104900538495037609337/posts.

Jay Garza '17 listens intently to an audioguide.
Jay Garza ’17 (center) listens intently to an audioguide.

 

Matthew Petty ’15 Selected for Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship

The Fulbright Scholarship program is founded on the philosophy of late Senator J. William Fulbright: that international educational exchange is the most significant and important path to create “leadership, learning and empathy between cultures”, and thereby the hope of global peace. The US student Fulbright program funds approximately 1900 grants each year enabling students to travel, study, research and teach in over 155 countries. Among the core Fulbright Programs is the English Teaching Assistantship, where US students help English teachers in foreign countries while acting as cultural ambassadors for the US. English Teaching Fulbright applications are targeted towards the specific country of the applicant’s choice and cover the Fulbright Scholar’s living expenses in the host country as well as round trip transportation.

Male student with short hair wearing a blue-striped polo stands rasting his hand on a low brick wall.
2015 Fulbright Scholar Matthew Petty ’15

This year, Texas A&M student Matthew Petty, ’15, International Studies and Russian double major has been awarded a coveted Fulbright ETA Scholarship to teach English in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan. Matthew’s scholarly interests originally were focused on Russia, specifically the Russian culture and language. Even before matriculating at Texas A&M, Matthew had been awarded two National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarships, which allowed him to work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer at the American Center and in a local school in Kazan, Russia. He then returned to Russia, this time to Tomsk on a Benjamin Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship where he split his time once more between an American Center and a Siberian Lyceum, similar to an American high school. It was while in Tomsk that Matthew found his interests beginning to shift from Russia to the countries of Eurasia, or Central Europe. It was also during his stints in Russia that Matthew met Fulbright scholars and the head language officer at the US Embassy in Moscow. These interactions allowed Matthew to realize that his interest in teaching and soviet culture could lead to a career in linguistics, English language instruction and curriculum development.

In many ways Matthew has already become an ambassador and connection between US and Central Asian culture. Here in Texas, his friendship with an Uzbek student led Matthew to the realization that rural Texas farming culture has much in common with the cultures of Central Asia. While in Russia, he discovered he greatly enjoyed Tajik food and the hospitality of its citizens. Matthew firmly believes that an in-depth understanding of a language cannot be accomplished without a thorough understanding of the culture and history that has shaped it. While teaching English in Russia, Matthew would entwine American cultural touchstones such as holiday food, country music, radio broadcasts and sports with language lessons. To further develop an understanding of American English and American culture during his time as a Fulbright Scholar in Tajikistan, Matthew plans to incorporate movies, cultural discussions and creative writing into his teaching plans.

After his Fulbright Scholarship and graduation, Matthew intends to pursue a master’s degree in curriculum development with an emphasis on ESL education. This training in addition to his increasing experience in Russian language and Central Asian culture will set Matthew’s feet on the road to a professional career promoting international goodwill and understanding through the sharing of education and culture. Senator Fulbright would be proud.

Current students interested in applying for the 2016 Fulbright Program should contact Jamaica Pouncy, Program Coordinator, National Fellowships and Honors Academic Advisor, jamaica.pouncy@tamu.edu.

2015 Award Season

The end of the spring semester and the approach of graduation comes with a number of award announcements. This is an exciting and busy time of year as we recognize and bid farewell to our 2015 Honors and Undergraduate Research graduates.

In addition to the successes in nationally-competitive awards such as the Goldwater and Fulbright competitions, our students have been recognized for their outstanding achievement in and out of the classroom with campus awards.

In addition to sweeping the Brown-Rudder and Gates-Muller awards announced at commencement, our students have been recognized in the Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior, Gathright, Buck Weirus competitions. We applaud our students who have been recognized! (University Honors Students: don’t forget to update your ePortfolios!)

Click here for a historical listing of HUR Student Recognition.

Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Juniors
Eleni Mijalis, College of Science
Julia Deleeuw, Mays Business School

Gathright Scholars Award
Randy Ardywibowo
Michael Bass
Michelle Dembosky
Hannah Frailey
Megan Girvan
Aaron Griffin
Emily Henkel
Eleni Mijalis
Hope Miller
Austin Wang

Buck Weirus Spirit Award
Jonathan Brewer
Mark Dore
Annalisa Erder
Megan Hoenig
Nandini Patel
Aaron Wolbrueck

Academy for Future International Leaders
Clayton Cromer
Lucchese Gordon
Margaret McIntyre

Thanks to the Association of Former Students, Undergraduate Studies, Study Abroad, and all of the amazing faculty and staff that make these awards possible!

2014 National Fellowship Nominees

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) has nominated six outstanding students for nationally-competitive fellowships this year, including the George C. Marshall Scholarship, the George Mitchell Scholarship, and the Rhodes Scholarship.

The Marshall Scholarship finances up to 40 young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in any field of study in the United Kingdom. The selected scholars’ direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programs contributes to their ultimate personal success.

The Mitchell Scholarship is an award sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance. It was named in honor of former U.S. Senator Mitchell’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process and designed to introduce upcoming future American leaders to Ireland, while fostering scholarship, leadership, and community commitment.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowship awards around the world. 32 young Americans are selected each year as Rhodes Scholars from 300 American colleges and universities. These scholars are chosen for outstanding scholarly achievements along with character, commitment to others, and for their potential leadership in their career aspirations. The Rhodes Trust, honoring Cecil J. Rhodes, provides full support for Rhodes Scholars to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Texas A&M’s 2014 nominees for these prestigious fellowships include:

Philip Cho – Rhodes Scholarship Nominee

Carli Domenico – Rhodes Scholarship Nominee, Mitchell Scholarship Nominee

Annabelle Hutchinson – Rhodes Scholarship Nominee, Marshall Scholarship Nominee

Madeline Keyser – Rhodes Scholarship Nominee

Jack Reid – Rhodes Scholarship Nominee, Marshall Scholarship Nominee, Mitchell Scholarship Nominee

Austin Wang – Marshall Scholarship Nominee

Philip Cho
Philip Cho ’14, Rhodes Scholarship Nominee

Philip Cho ‘14, a philosophy major with a minor in classical studies, has been nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship to study Ancient Philosophy at Oxford University. Cho has served as Inspector General Corporal and Fireteam Leader for the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and leads praise at Korean churches. He has traveled extensively, including intense personal study in the UK. Cho completed an undergraduate thesis on the works of Aristotle and Kant and is continually seeking new knowledge for the sake of learning. He is praised by his professors and mentors for his intellectual curiosity, extensive reading, and careful writing.

Carli Domenico
Carli Domenico ’15, Rhodes and Mitchell Scholarships Nominee

Carli Domenico ‘15, a university studies-Honors major with minors in psychology and philosophy, has been nominated for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Mitchell Scholarship. Domenico has been highly engaged in campus programs including being selected for the University Scholars program, serving as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, as an executive for Invisible Jungle, and organizing a campus 5K race benefitting New Horizons childrens’ shelter for Maggies. She completed a thesis analyzing effects of anti-inflammatories on pain processes with the Undergraduate Research Scholars in Dr. Meagher’s health and pain neuroscience laboratory. Domenico has also traveled abroad, studying Spanish language, art and culture at Universidad Antonio de Nebrija in Madrid, and interned for NASA at the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she conducted studies on astronaut sleep and cognition. She plans a career dedicated to improving the global understanding of neuroscience.

Annabelle Hutchinson
Annabelle Hutchinson ’15, Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships Nominee

Annabelle Hutchinson ‘15, a political science and economics double major, has been nominated for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship, and hopes to study International Relations at Oxford University. Hutchinson has been highly engaged as a mentor, serving the Aggie Scholars Promoting Incentive, Resources and Encouragement (ASPIRE) program, as a Fish Camp counselor, and coordinating with her rural high school superintendent to improve SAT preparation and test-taking resources. As a member of the Academy for Future International Leaders, she developed a campus organization, VOICE, to share international news with fellow students. Hutchinson has been a research assistant for the Project for Equity, Representation, and Governance and is currently conducting research for her thesis in the Undergraduate Research Scholars program of higher education for economic growth.

Maddie Keyser -cropped
Maddie Keyser ’15, Rhodes Scholarship Nominee

Madeline Keyser ‘15, an English and German double-major, has been nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship to study the works of Tolkein at Oxford University. Keyser volunteers with Big Event and A&M United Methodist Church. She is a member of the Cornerstone Liberal Arts Honors program and was selected as the Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior for the Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts. Keyser has conducted research abroad in Austria, at Universität Tübingen in Germany, and in the Bodelian Library at Oxford University. In addition to her German language fluency, Keyser has also developed reading ability for Old English by pursuing graduate course work to support her research. Her faculty referees note her qualities of intellectual risk-taking and inner drive. In addition to her fine scholarly qualities, Keyser enjoys running, swimming, rock-climbing and playing piano and cello.

Jack Reid
Jack Reid ’15, Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships Nominee

Jack Reid ‘15, a mechanical engineering and philosophy double-major, has been nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship, the Marshall Scholarship, and the Mitchell Scholarship. He intends to pursue his doctorate of philosophy as part of the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University. Reid teaches a class in conjunction with the Invisible Jungle weekly radio program and served as a peer tutor teaching GRE and ACT prep courses while studying abroad at Texas A&M-Qatar. He has participated in research with several different labs and is currently conducting his own research project with medical and industrial applications as part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. Reid is consistently recognized by his faculty as a model of curiosity, humility, self-motivation, and enthusiasm. As a University Scholar, Reid also serves as an ambassador for Honors and Undergraduate Research and shows personal leadership in helping prospective students discover the resources available at Texas A&M.

Austin Wang
Austin Wang ’15, Marshall Scholarship Nominee

Austin Wang ’15, a biomedical sciences and psychology double-degree student, has been nominated for a Marshall Scholarship to study music performance at the graduate level. Wang, a University Scholar, has very diverse interests that include music, travel, and a desire to become a physician. He plays with both the TAMU Wind Symphony and the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. He studied the history of medicine and the state of biomedical research in Europe on two different study abroad terms in Bonn, Germany. Wang has served as research assistant with two different faculty labs, learning techniques such as DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis. He has also logged 145 hours of volunteer time in the Nuclear Medicine Department at St. Joseph Hospital. Wang is currently conducting genomic research on the hyacinth macaw as part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. The nomination committee was particularly impressed by Wang’s willingness to put his medical school plans on hold to commit significant time and effort to developing his skill and passion for music.

Congratulations to all of these amazing nominees! We are proud of your hard work and the fine examples you are of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service!

Shelbi Polk: Healthy Tension

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. Below is  Shelbi Polk’s  ’15 reflection on her study abroad in Paris.

By Shelbi Polk –

I have never in my life enjoyed doing the dishes. That is not to say I dread it, as washing up can even be pleasant with the right company. There is always a certain satisfaction that comes at the end of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners when the whole family comes together to clean up. After we have gathered and enjoyed together, we all join in the cleaning process, and it is never too dreary with cousins joking in the background. Usually though, washing the dishes is a chore I undertake out of obligation towards whoever was nice enough to make dinner for me, not for the pure joy of it.

So naturally, on my first night in a French home, I began to start clearing the dishes when we finished eating. It has always been expected in my own home that we help clear the table, and I wanted to show my host mother that I had enjoyed the meal. I also just really wanted to help by assisting in the cleaning process. My poor host mother was absolutely scandalized. My roommate and I were guests, she insisted, and guests did not take any part in the cleaning process.

I smiled and nodded of course, but I knew this routine. The hostess tells the guest not to bother, and the guest very politely fights to clean everything they can in order to show their appreciation of the meal. Well, evidently that scene was written in America, and the French have a very different version. Guests truly do not lift a finger, much less enter the kitchen to help. I had, in fact, offended my sweet host mother by simply piling the dirty plates. She kindly informed us that such a move was truly rude, and that it indicated that the guest had liked the meal so little that they wanted it to be taken away early.

That was not at all what I had wanted to communicate to my host mother. She’d made us an amazing meal of traditional French food and I sincerely just wanted to help. I was naturally horrified to learn that the very way in which I had tried to show my appreciation for the meal had communicated the opposite. Of course, I quickly apologized and explained that it was a gesture intended to be helpful and appreciative, and my host mom was very graceful about it all.

Since then, our dinners together have been lovely. There are quite a few places that French table etiquette differs from American, and it has been a process figuring out where all the differences lie. But that process of discovery has been characteristic of much of my life here, and the process of adapting has been both great and challenging in many ways. I have gained, as I hope all study abroad students do, even more respect for my host country than I had before and learned a ton about flexibility at the same time. Living abroad forces people to adjust to many different things by its very nature. Previously held ideas about how the world must work, from dinner etiquette to much bigger things, are challenged by the friction that living abroad produces. I have found that this friction is not always a bad thing. Having an idea challenged can either strengthen your convictions or help you see a better, or equally good way to do things.

Shelbi Polk '15 and her friend Adrienne pose in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris
Shelbi Polk ’15 and her friend Adrienne pose in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris

I know that if I do get the chance to live abroad again, I will adjust more quickly and even more easily to life in a different culture than I have this round because of my experiences here. I also think that I will be able to take this attitude home. It is easy to assume that people all do things the same way, especially within the same country, but that is not true. One of the most beautiful things about the United States is that it is a country made up of so many different cultures. Our neighbors are so often different from us in ways that we do not even realize. I have definitely become more sensitive to different cultures, and that will not change. And next time I am told not to do the dishes, whether that be in America or abroad, I will definitely listen a little more.